Obsession With Surrender

Putting down the French, no matter how trivial the issue, is just too easy for many journalists, pundits and talking heads.In the last month we were graced with surrender jokes by CBS’s Craig Ferguson, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and “surrender monkey” slurs from a Jonah Goldberg Canadian Mini-Me known as Don Martin.

On Friday, Sean Michaels, a columnist with the British paper The Guardian covered the French Eurovision flap over Sébastien Tellier’s English lyrics by stating: “in true French fashion, (Tellier) appears to have surrendered.

Eurovision is an awful little contest, a European Idol if you wish, where contestants from each country in the E.U. compete for a title that will ensure complete and utter musical oblivion. The fact the French singer chose to sing his original composition in English caused somewhat of a ruckus in the French press. But for what reason would a British journalist evoke the most painful moment in French history to lambaste the Eurovision flap?

frenchhater.jpgSean Michaels is free to write what he wishes, but this demonstrates once again our theory of the “Long Tail” and “Trickle Down Hatred”. Had the French government issued strong protests on a regular basis during the United States Official French Bashing policy (2003-2007), we would not be here today.

Instead, the Quai d’Orsay, France’s Foreign Ministry, chose the hands off approach, a tactical mistake of epic proportions. The Anglo-American cultural sphere is now saturated with anti-French prejudice, the likes of which will live on for years.

Source : Sean Michaels @ the GuardianSean Michael’s Blog
Thank you to D.C. (SF)

Note: In statistics, the long tail is a feature of the new distribution of online markets and human behaviour. Prominently featured in articles about Web 2.0, the concept might just as well apply to the politics of bigotry and parrot-like punditry.

10 Replies to “Obsession With Surrender”

  1. Couldn’t have put it better myself, Marc. I’ve been having the constant feeling that it’s time to emancipate ourselves from the all-too restrictive blogosphere and grow. How? I have no idea. Perhaps a post that would invite us to think about it and contribute with our own ideas? I think a constructive post at SF to discuss the matter would be nice, rather than the usual bantering and bickering (which is all good fun, but does not get us far).

    These “surrender” jokes are the ones I cope with the least. The sad thing is, in France, until not long ago (and still, largely, nowadays) we had no idea of the image these peoples had of us; we still thought they had the funny, sympathetic “beret, baguette, striped t-shirt” stereotype rather than these hateful delusions…

  2. Indeed, it’s time to rethink our strategies. SuperFrenchie and this website have done a lot over the last four-five years to keep the expat community informed, active. We met with some success, the Subway Affaire for instance or the Educating Jay Project, but also a lot of frustration. Granted we’re both sounding a little jaded, angry and frustrated, but I think it’s time we look at new strategies with limited time and limited methods.

  3. Some ideas :

    1) Postcard campaign. We would have to design a series of poscards, something strong. Each French Bashing episode and I’d send out a standard message with the return addresses of those who want to have a card sent in their name.

    2) Writing to the WGA – The Writers Guild of America is the head union for all these comedy writers, might be worth writing an informative article on the subject. Would have to be very hard-hitting.

    3) A DVD campaign. Most of these writers and comedians are not readers – I bet Jay never read those books we gave him – but a DVD would get a better chance. Do we produce something on the cheap, YouTube style, or do we select a number of relevant movies about WW II?

  4. I think it would be a good idea to start with youtube videos.

    We should also try to enlist the help of some celebrities sympathetic to the French. There must be some.

  5. The Times has a full-time French basher in Paris disguised as a journalist who doesn’t hesitate to give his column a decided slant all in the name of Murdoch. His name: Charles Bremner.

    Don’t be fooled by Bremner — he declares he’s an unavowed Francophile — great pretext to earn his bread and butter while he wacks the French at every turn.


  6. I agree with Hillblogger re Charles Bremner.
    And it doesn’t tak a genius to figure it out. One of Bremner’s regulars on his blog is a pathological French hater named rocket.

    Never has Bremner condemned French-bashing, never has he written anything even remotely positive about the French.

    The fact that Canal+ regularly invites him on one of their shows really piss me off.
    I have emailed Canal+ several times but they never replied.

  7. My ideas —

    1) Postcard campaign: Expensive and not very cost-effective, in my opinion. It would probably only reach a very small percentage of people.

    2) Writing to the WGA: We should get to work on that. I am at your disposal, in particular in what regards history. I can have access to the Spanish CSIC (consejo superior de investigaciones científicas) library for first-hand sources.

    3) A DVD campaign: Youtube all the way. People are cheapskates — they probably won’t bother to buy an amateur DVD. But if it’s on Youtube, and we manage to get sufficient publicity, then we just might have something here. How about an updated, video version of “112 gripes”? Each video would be a particular gripe.

    A popular webpage: could work. A humorous, bashing-back webpage, catchy and attractive. Coupled with serious webpages such as Miquelon.

    The celebrity idea is also quite good; let’s hope they’ll pay attention…

  8. “More recently a light-hearted piece on the Guardian’s music site resulted in angry emails from three readers. It said that Sebastien Tellier, the French singer-songwriter, had succumbed to pressure to change lyrics in his song for the Eurovision contest from English into French. “Tellier, in true French fashion, appears to have surrendered,” the author joked. This was “outrageous” said a reader, who complained about stereotyping and the author’s disregard for French people who died in the second world war.

    The author says he did not intend his quip to be taken seriously. “The tone of these articles is very, very light,” he told me. “I cannot imagine seriously disparaging France or the French – let alone the bravery of French soldiers – and I regret some readers interpreted it in that way.”

    Like cliches, stereotypes are familiar and overused – reason enough to delete them from any draft article – but stereotypes are cliches with a kick because they have the ability to offend, insult and alienate. They’re an invitation to agree with limiting, questionable, generalisations and fixed ideas – writers shouldn’t be surprised when readers decline.”


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